Untethered

Posted on Nov 6, 2017 in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

From “A Child’s Book of Prayers and Blessings: From Faiths and Cultures Around the World”

I didn’t think that I would be motherless this early. We planned to move her up to Baltimore so that she could enjoy the rest of her retired life with no responsibilities other than herself but as every good story plot shows, life doesn’t work out as we plan. She did move up to Baltimore and lived with me for the last six months but it wasn’t ideal. Sickness changes relationships. Expectations go unstated. Drugs are horrible. It was an uphill battle. In the end, I wouldn’t have had her care put in anyone else’s hands. I’ve always known that as an only child, the responsibility would fall on me. I was grossly underprepared. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. She was 64.

I planned for us to take long walks together. I wanted her to get to travel more; go and reconnect with old college friends and see more of the country. The trip I took us on two years ago to Jamaica was only the tip of the iceberg in my mind. I wanted to show my mother the world since she sacrificed so much to allow me to see it for myself. Thank God for that time we spent, before the doctors, the steroids, the mood swings, the frailty; the change in demeanor. I am just getting to a point where I can remember her smiling, vibrant, and happy, before the turn.

Before she died, I was angry. There were so many “if onlies”. In the end they don’t matter. The last six months don’t really matter either, not enough to outweigh the 39 years we spent together prior to them.

I’ve lost other loved ones before and I have always been a realist in the face of death. It’s a part of the deal. We live; we die. What matters most is how we spend the time we have. Life will go on once we’re gone. I don’t pretend to know what comes next for us. Maybe our energy is recycled. Maybe there is a God figure that greets us in some beautiful afterlife. Maybe we become trees. Even knowing this and fully accepting it, I wasn’t prepared for what it would feel like to lose my mother…the mother who raised me alone on her own terms every step of the way.

It’s been three months now. I’m doing okay for the most part. The house that I bought for us feels a little less strange without her these days. Initially there was this overwhelming feeling of being untethered. Like a dinghy adrift at sea. A feeling of being both starkly alone in the world, yet full of possibility at the same time-both sad and energizing. I lost my sweet friend, my biggest fan, and my cheerleader. It is a sobering very grown up state. I still half expect to look down and see her name pop up on my phone when it vibrates and I still playfully roll my eyes at the thought of my mom calling to check up on me.

It’s been a stressful year. I bought a house, moved, consolidated my mother’s home with mine, took care of her, and then helped her transition from her earthly being. I don’t have much room to care about little things anymore. Maybe that will change in time.

My friends and family have been amazing. Without the love and support of everyone, I am sure I would have buckled under the immense weight of it all. My cousin is an hour away in DC. She lost her mother two weeks after me. We were both only daughters and very close to our mothers. It’s a sucky blessing that we get to go to grief counseling and walk this journey together. I am taking a solid year to be extremely kind to myself…say no to a few requests here and there…take a few extra naps…longer walks with the dog…a few extra shopping trips. The art desire and urge to create is finally starting to bubble back up. I haven’t felt like drawing much of anything for a while now.  My head and heart have just been too full. I also fell and broke my shoulder back in June. Maybe it was the universe’s way of making me rest. Maybe it was just dumb luck…

This post has been on my mind since August. Not sure if I needed to share such personal thoughts with the world (all 50 of the people who visit the blog). I just needed to get it out.

11 Comments

  1. Maria-Stella
    November 6, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this – as a wonderful fellow human, and as a creator you have a story that is written every day. After all, what’s an artist without her story, the context of her work? Sharing is healing, and it does us all good. I am an only child too, and know one day this will come. Thank you. Much love to you.

    Reply
  2. Maria
    November 6, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this – as a wonderful fellow human, and as a creator you have a story that is written every day. After all, what’s an artist without her story, the context of her work? Sharing is healing, and it does us all good. I am an only child too, and know one day this will come. Thank you. Much love to you.

    Reply
  3. Yolanda
    November 6, 2017

    This was really beautiful, Shadra. Thank you for sharing.

    Your Mom was such a wonderful person and I know she is guiding you in her own way now.

    You’re never untethered.

    Reply
  4. Ananda
    November 6, 2017

    Thank you for sharing. You are constantly in my thoughts, especially with the holidays approaching. One day at a time.

    Reply
  5. Jennifer
    November 6, 2017

    Shadra,
    Thanks for your unfettered honesty on love and loss. I hope there is healing in getting your thoughts on paper. You are in my heart as you work through this time of sadness.
    Jennifer

    Reply
  6. Kiietti
    November 6, 2017

    You’re amazing. She was is too. The love we share with our moms are so special, the good times the bad the sucky the exhilarating ones. All in all, every moment shared together are those teachable moments for you to live on long and full. Her laugh her smile her voice her mannerisms her joyous her spirit her wisdoms all are there still in mind in spirit guiding you. I always said the special ones get to take care of those special people who do sacrificed without edification for their young. She’s special, and so are you. You did it! Be kind to yourself and yours. Stay even kiln. Draw write paint speak teach create laugh like you’ve never done before. Your mom will be right there still cheering you backing you up like never before. Hugs from your big sister bestie friend.

    Reply
  7. Ed Spicer
    November 6, 2017

    Shadra,

    Hugs to you. I’m glad I was able to meet your mother in person. Your mother sent private messages to me about how much she loved and admired your talent. I can’t imagine the swirl of emotions that drain into the simple fact of loss. There is no time table for grief and barely even any logic. Thank you for sharing this and, again, my condolences…

    Reply
  8. Kathy Halsey
    November 6, 2017

    Shadra, There is no feeling that can compare to losing a mother that you loved so much and were so close to. My mom and i were like that. Your description of feeling unmoored is spot-on. I am glad that you had that time together at the end, even though illness and drugs changed her. You are fining you r mom again now and your art. Yes, take good care and be gentle with yourself. Hugs..

    Reply
  9. Meg Medina
    November 6, 2017

    Hi Shadra, You really describe what it is to lose our mothers. And I know that you and your mom were so close, so this is particularly difficult, I’m sure. At any age, that immense sense of being set adrift by ourselves, is such an unwelcome surprise. From what I have lived, I’ll tell you this: Things will settle into a new normal for you, and other adventures await you. But for now, take good care of yourself with quiet days, art-filled hours, walks with you pup. I hope we’ll run into one another soon. Until then, know that I’m thinking of you and sending much love your way.

    Reply
  10. Lisa Lester
    November 6, 2017

    Things will never be the same but they will get better. After Dottie’s passing I realized how much your mother meant to me and how exceptional she was. I grieve for her too.

    Things will get better.

    Reply
  11. Carole Boston Weatherford
    November 7, 2017

    Thanks for sharing these heartfelt sentiments. My mom is 92 (still independent) and I cherish each day. Peace and blessings, my sister.

    Reply

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